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Beef Up Your Back

Beef Up Your Back
Tips and Tricks for
Targeting Traps And Lats

“The front’s for show and the back’s for go.”

It’s a common training and performance adage. But I don’t know that it’s wholly accurate. A beefy back is just as showy as a chisled anterior.

Want a back that’s built for show and go? Include the following training staples in your training program.

Hang Cleans

Hang cleans in a back training article, have I lost my mind? I assure you, as can the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that my mental faculties are intact and in working order.

Yes—we’re discussing hang cleans. Why? They’re one of the best upper-back builders in existence. All of the upper-back musculature works intensely to pull the bar and to catch it in the rack position. As a result, the traps, posterior delts and the rest of the upper-back brethren grows thick and dense.

There is a caveat—hang cleans come with a learning curve and require decent shoulder and wrist mobility. But, if you have those prerequisites, get cleaning.

Do sets of three to six reps in the early part of an upper-body session and avoid extreme fatigue or failure. These bad boys are form intensive. It’s ill advised to rip through reps until your entire upper-body burns.

Mechanical Drop Sets

Mechanical drop sets exist for the training masochist lurking in all of us. Performance is simple: start with an exercise that positions you in the most demanding mechanical position and do reps until you can’t anymore. Once you’ve used up that exercise/position, moved to a less demanding position. And so on, and so forth. Continue on until you’ve progressed through three to five exercises.

It’s a great way to incur a lot of stress and training volume in a short amount of time. Stress plus volume plus consistency equals growth. Here’s a great mechanical drop set example:

Pull-ups: x two reps shy of failure
Bent Row: x two reps shy of failure
Chest Supported Row: x two reps shy of failure
Band Pull-aparts: x two reps shy of failure

Repeat, if possible, after two minutes of rest.

Choose weights that, when fresh, you could move for fifteen reps.

Plan a drop set like the one above for one or two upper-body days per week for a month. Place it at the end of a workout, or use it for all of your back training for the day. If you use it correctly, you won’t need more than what it has to offer.

Arms Off Farmer’s Carries

Traps and lats. They are the functional and aesthetic back builders. Want to hypertrophy those bad boys? Hold them under tension for an extended period of time. Arms off farmer’s carries are just the ticket.

In each hand, grab a dumbbell that’s roughly one-quarter of your total bodyweight. Each dumbbell combined, you should be holding a total of half of your bodyweight. Now, stand up as tall as possible, crush the dumbbells with your grip and don’t let your arms rest completely at your sides. Lift them slightly off and keep them there.

Once you’ve accomplished this set-up, you’ll walk until you reach mechanical failure. That means you either can’t maintain your tall posture or you can’t keep your arms off of your sides. Once you mechanically fail, stop the set. Rest for a minute or so, and repeat for another two to three sets.

Plan your arms off carries for the end of an upper-body work out or on an off-day.


While the deadlift isn’t a “back” exercise, per se, it’s still a massive back builder. Deadlift frequently and witness your traps, lats and upper-back grow massive.

Use the deadlift in all its wonderful forms—conventional, sumo, Romanian, rack pull, etc. Conventional, sumo and rack pulls are great for heavy loading. If you’d like to hit more reps per set, employ Romanian deadlifts.

Deadlift once per week in some form for the rest of your training career, you’ll have a strong, wide, thick back.  

Supplement Suggestions

[Editor’s Note: The key to growth -- whether it’s a staple like biceps or quads, or trickier areas like lats and traps – is to maintain a constant flow of high-quality aminos to recovering muscle tissue throughout the day. Of course, we’re all well-versed in the notion of taking a powerful mass builder, such as BioQuest’s MyoZene, immediately post-workout to jumpstart anabolism and preserve the gains we’ve worked so hard to manifest with intense exercise. And, for most of us, our major meals throughout the day are covered as well.

But what about those nutritional gaps that inevitably occur during the workday or overnight? It’s during those unguarded hours that catabolism can creep up on us, chewing up hard-earned muscle tissue for fuel. It’s for those hours that a solid, sturdy, advanced-formulation whey protein like ProSource’s Precision Whey Protein was invented.

Precision Whey Protein is the bodybuilder’s best friend. Each and every serving delivers 25 grams of high-quality whey protein, formulated via sophisticated microfiltration methods to ensure maximum anabolic power. And you can be sure that Precision Whey Protein delivers every microgram of whey protein content it promises on the label -- entirely free of the fillers, deceptive blends and spiked off-label ingredients so many disreputable manufacturers are currently using to bulk up their products. Precision Whey Protein is ideal for throughout-the-day-and-evening feeding of hungry muscle tissue, and it perfectly fits your bodybuilding budget!]

Back it Up

A big, strong back will help you stay strong and look good for a lifetime. Be consistent with solid back training staples and you’ll earn a beefy back worth mentioning.

Read more about Precision Whey Protein here.

Read more about MyoZene here.

Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.